Two Sides North America announced that over 30 leading North American companies have committed to remove 'anti-paper' based claims being used to promote electronic billing and other e-services as more environmentally-friendly.
The Two Sides campaign is engaged with top Fortune 500 organisations in the banking, utilities and telecommunications sectors as well as digital service companies. Alan Anglyn, Sprint’s Director of IT Care and Billing Services Business Management said, 'One of the benefits of our relationship with Two Sides has been the opportunity to reflect on how we communicate our efforts. This caused us to review Sprint’s messaging about electronic media across multiple touch points.'
'Many in the graphic communications industry, from family forest owners to paper mills, printers, mailers and related businesses are tired of seeing misleading environmental claims about print and paper. Our campaign has been focused on educating corporate marketers on the unique social and environmental benefits of print and paper, and to ensure that claims used to promote e-services are based on credible science and facts,' stated Two Sides North America President Phil Riebel.
Two Sides’ main reasons for challenging 'Go Paperless, Save Trees' claims are:
• They do not meet guidelines for environmental marketing established by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Competition Bureau of Canada.
• They are damaging to the North American economy and threaten jobs.
• The income landowners receive for trees grown on their land is an important incentive to maintain, sustainably manage and renew this valuable resource. If the market for their wood products is lost, there is little incentive for owners to maintain their forest land (which is then sold to developers and converted to non-forest use).
• Print on paper originates from a renewable resource, with trees grown in responsibly-managed North American forests.
• In North America, they grow more trees than they harvest. Over the last six decades, total net U.S. forest area has increased by over 3% and the net volume of trees on timberland has increased by 58% (U.S. Forest Service, 2012). In Canada, the forest cover has remained stable over the last two decades and harvest has been 44% of annual growth (Conference Board of Canada, 2014).
• The environmental and social impacts of switching from paper to e-media are not properly or adequately considered, and they are far from negligible. The trade off between the two platforms depends on conditions such as use frequency, source of energy, and end-of-life management of the products (P. Arnfalk, 2010).
• Consumer surveys found that 50% or more of U.S. respondents don’t believe, feel misled or question 'Go Paperless, Save Trees' claims, and that over 80% agreed that e-billing and e-statements are being promoted to save costs (Toluna and Two Sides, 2013).
Alison Moodie, a writer for The Guardian-Sustainable Business, covered the Two Sides campaign in February 2014 (Is Digital Greener than Paper?) and noted, 'Manufacturing electronic products also leaves a carbon footprint, as well as the energy needed to power them. And a growing concern is the rapid growth of discarded electronics, especially in developing countries. E-waste is on the rise, with a global increase of 40 million tons per year, especially in third world countries.' She concluded that, 'Until more research has been done on the life-cycle and environmental impact of electronics, pitting paper and e-media against each other is somewhat futile. It doesn't need to be an 'either/or' situation. There is a place for both paper and e-media.'